the Third Miracle

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing

is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

Albert Einstein

Director Agnieszka Holland has produced a thoughtful and thought-provoking
film in The Third Miracle. It centers on the complicated character, Father Frank
Moore. This troubled priest recently found by Bishop Cahill’s secretary hiding
in a downtown soup kitchen is also the diocesan postulator for any alleged
supernatural activity in the region. He is most known for earlier exposing what
many considered a saint, as a sexually tortured man who eventually committed
suicide. This incident branded him the “miracle killer”. In the beginning,
even he had begun to believe in the intercession of this legendary Fr. Falcone.
Discovering the truth left him with a scarred psyche filled with regret from
years of shooting holes in people\'s beliefs.

While in a crisis of faith he is asked by his prelate to investigate a new
case -- Helen O’Regan and a miracle at St. Stanislaus parish in a dilapidated
urban area. The miracle was a girl named Maria, cured of terminal Lupus after
praying for the intercession of the recently deceased O’Regan. Included with
the physical healing was a yearly manifestation where a favorite statue of Helen’s
would shed tears of blood. The blood matched Helen’s type. Maria went on to
become a prostitute and drug addict leading her mother to claim “God wasted a
miracle”. Additionally, Helen’s daughter Roxane struggled with the
investigation since she had bitterness toward her mother for leaving her at age
16 by moving into the parish rectory. For her religion was “pathetic” and
her bitterness prevented her from seeing how God could work miracles through a
flawed human being like her mother. The added dimension of a romantic
relationship between her and Fr. Malone was unnecessary and incidental to the
story, except to show the loneliness and humanity of the postulator. This new
endeavor reinvigorates Fr. Frank. He sees it as a possibility to redeem his
past, this is manifested in a poignant scene where he cries out, “I want God
to show his face again”. He acknowledges his weakness in view of her character
by declaring, “Her [Helen’s] heart was full of love. I’m not even a good
priest. Make me worthy”

Miracles are an invitation to faith. I think this is an appropriate theme for
this movie because the primary miracles associated with Helen become invitations
to faith for each of the characters in the movie. For Fr. Frank, they are an
invitation to renew and rediscover his own faith, and his priestly vows through
his relationship with Roxanne. For Archbishop Werner, who plays the part of the
religious yet skeptical devil’s advocate, they also issue an invitation. His
biggest problem is the source of the miracle. Sainthood, according to him,
should be reserved for the heroic martyr not for an American housewife. Yet
ironically, he was one of the few witnesses of Helen’s miracle when she was
just a child. As a German soldier passing through her town he witnessed how her
intercession appeared to stop bombs midair. So for him it was an invitation to
faith in miracles coming from unexpected and even flawed mediums. A later second
miracle which saves Maria’s life again – it is an invitation for Maria’s
mother and Maria to effect change in their lives and embrace the Christian faith
and morality which are connected with the events. These miracles, as invitations
to faith, open up the possibility of liberation, healing and transformation for
each of the characters, in their own way. We are left to wonder to what degree
they each respond to this compelling invitation

Category: Religion